How do I track my tax refund from the IRS?

The IRS makes it easy to track your tax refund check, if you know where to look. We researched all of the ways for you and included them all in this post.

Adam Goldkamp is the editor / author responsible for this content.
Jul 16, 2019

In 2017 alone, the IRS received about 145 million tax returns. Of those tax returns, over 108 million tax refunds were granted. A tax refund can be used for any purpose you desire depending on its size. It does, however, require some patience to get your refund. Filing your taxes electronically is the best way to get your tax refund according to the IRS. It typically takes about three weeks to get your refund if you electronically file your returns whereas it takes 6-8 weeks if you file them physically.

Not knowing the status of your tax refund after filing your returns can be taxing, no pun intended. The good news is that the IRS has a tool on their website that enables you to see your refund status in real time. However, an IRS refund may not arrive in your back account exactly when you expect it. If that happens, the IRS has a process for tracking missing tax refunds.

"Where is My Refund?"

The IRS has an online tool on their website dubbed "Where is my refund?" The tool has been operational since 2007. In order to verify the state of your tax refund there are certain pieces of information you are required to submit. You will need:

  1. Your filing status e.g. single, married among others
  2. The precise amount of the refund you filed on your tax return.
  3. Your Social Security number and/or Employer Identification Number depending on what you used to file your return.

Once you submit the above information on the IRS website, you will be redirected to the Refund Status Results page. The page will notify you what stage your refund is at which is one of three options: return received, refund approved or refund sent. If you are tracking your refund, the first option should be guaranteed. If the screen states that your refund has been approved, there should also be an estimated time of arrival for when the refund will be deposited into your account. Moreover, there will be a date given for when you should reach out to your bank if you do not get your funds.

You can track your tax refund status though your computer or through the IRS app, IRS2go. The app can be gotten from iTunes, Google Play and Amazon. The site and the app are updated once every day. Therefore, multiple checks on your IRS account make no difference.

Tracking a Missing Tax Refund

Another advantage of filing your returns electronically is that you will receive your tax refund in the same manner. On the contrary, physical methods of payments like checks can get misplaced or stolen. The problem is that IRS cannot sanction more than three direct deposits into the same bank account in a single year. Any more refunds will be made via paper check. If the check goes missing you can contact the IRS and have them trace it or you can fill IRS form 3911.

The IRS will confirm if the check was cashed and if it was not, they will create a claims package and review the information on the check. If the information is valid, they will offer a replacement check which you should receive in about 6 weeks.

If you are awaiting an electronic transfer of funds into your bank account but have not yet received it, you should check to see that you submitted the correct information. If you have not yet received your refund, contact the IRS. If the IRS wrongfully deposited the refund into another account they can do nothing about it. You will have to follow up the matter with the bank.

Filing an Amended Return

Filing an amended return can happen in certain situations e.g. failure to claim a tax deduction. Amending the return ensures you receive the exact refund amount. In this case, you can track your refund through the IRS website. The process can last up to 4 month and requires patience.

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Adam has been tirelessly trying to help customers find the best tips and tricks to get through phone trees and writing many guides for prickly customer service problems. He's been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inside Edition and Bloomberg.
How do I track my tax refund from the IRS?

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